Lawyer cautions against ratifying EU trade treaty


(Joyce van Genderen-Naar)

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BRUSSELS–Joyce van Genderen-Naar, a Brussels based lawyer who is very much at home in European Union (EU) matters is cautioning Caribbean nations against ratifying the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and the Cariforum countries.
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“Ratifying this agreement will be disastrous to our countries, as it will open our doors to more imports from the EU … yes, our exports will have 100% access to European markets, but we don’t have the means to,” warned Suriname-born Van Genderen-Naar who in her capacity as lawyer acts as advisor to Caribbean organizations in EU matters.
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The CARIFORUM-EU EPA, signed in October 2008, is a trade and development agreement which covers not only trade in goods, but also services, investment, social and labor standards, competition policy and transparency in government procurement. It is the first (and, to date, only) comprehensive regional EPA in any ACP (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific) region. The agreement was signed on 15 October 2008 and provisionally applied as of 29 December 2008. It provides for the gradual and asymmetric liberalization of trade in goods, services and investment between the Caribbean signatories and the EU with the objective of fostering the sustainable development of the Caribbean region.
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Van Genderen-Naar said countries like Suriname should place their best judicial staff on this agreement before actually tabling it in Parliament for ratification. “These are very complex matters that even I as a lawyer who deals with them daily, have trouble understanding. But they should not be taken lightly, because if we’re not careful, products in our countries will become more expensive and people will suffer.”
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She explained that under the EU regime, Caribbean countries will no longer be allowed to levy customs duties for imports from the EU. “And customs duties are a substantial source of income for Caribbean countries like Suriname,” she said.
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Meanwhile, she continued, EU countries place high demands on goods that may be imported into their markets. “They have all sorts of rules and standards that you can only apply to, if you have the latest techniques and most modern equipment; we don’t have those techniques and equipments, so we will not be able to comply, which means that our exports will diminish. So while we earn less from customs duties, we also have less income from exports. . If we sign this agreement we will basically allow the EU at our bread and butter,” she said.
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The lawyer hinted that this is no different from the track records European Countries have left over the past 500 years. “In their eyes we are still no more than territories there for their profit,” she said.
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She said Suriname has enough other opportunities for its exports. “There are enough other countries and regions that want to do business with us. If we don’t ratify this agreement, the only thing that could harm is our banana export. But not our bauxite exports to Norway (Norway is not a member of the EU) or our oil exports. It cannot hurt our tourism industry. On the other hand, China is showing a lot of interest in Suriname, as is Brazil,” she said, emphasizing: “Suriname already has a tough time entering the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) with its exports. Imagine how much tougher the EU will make it for us if we open our markets to them like this. We’re not at equal playing level, so we should think this through properly.”
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Total EU trade with the Caribbean region amounts to more than €8.5 billion per year. EU exports to the Caribbean include chemicals and machinery and transport equipment. Caribbean exports to the EU include agricultural products, fuels and chemicals. The CARIFORUM region includes 15 countries: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Haiti signed the Agreement on 10 December 2009.

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The ACP Observatory on Migration


by Joyce van Genderen-Naar

On Monday 2 August 2010 a press conference and prelaunch of the ACP Observatory on Migration took place in the ACP House in Brussels, with statements from the ACP Assistant Secretary General, Ms. Michèle Dominique Raymond; Head of Governance and Operational Support Section EuropeAid Cooperation Office (AIDCO) European Commission, Ms. Kirsi Pekuri; and Director of the ACP Observatory on Migration, Mr. Laurent de Boeck.

The objective of the Observatory is to produce data on South-South ACP migration flows. There are 12 pilot ACP countries selected, but the research will concern all ACP countries and all ACP regions. The Observatory cooperates with universities in Africa, Caribbean, Pacific and EU. One of the main pillars of the Observatory’s activities is Capacity Building for civil society. They wish to integrate civil society actors in the dialogue concerning policy-making on migration, and give NGO’s, local organizations and individual actors from civil society their say in the process of improving migration policies in ACP countries. Furthermore, these contacts will help to increase the visibility of the Observatory amongst civil-society based organizations.

The Observatory is an institution designed to produce data on South-South ACP migration flows for migrants, civil society and policy-makers and enhance research capacities in ACP countries for the improvement of the migrants’ situation and the strengthening of the migration-development nexus. The total budget for the project is 9 404 776 €. The European Union contributes with 7 994 060 € .

The Observatory will create a network of research centres and private researchers to provide policy-makers, the civil society and the public at large with reliable and harmonized data on ACP migration. It will focus its attention on the migrants’ situation and will foster the inclusion of migration into pilot countries’ development strategies. The Observatory will be officially launched in October 2010. While currently based in Brussels (Belgium), the Observatory will move to one of the 79 ACP countries. The Observatory is open to the participation of Universities, research centres, government agencies, consultants, experts and general public interested in producing or using comprehensive data on ACP migration. Joining institutions will be part of a high-level research network including research facilities from around the world focusing on migration data and migration management policies. The Observatory will function as an exchange platform for migration research papers and expertise. Through its website, the Observatory will publish research studies and papers which will contribute to a better understanding of ACP migration flows and migration and development issues for policy-makers, government officials and general public.

The ACP observatory works with :

A Research Consortium with 15 partners, among which National University of Lesotho, Roma, Lesotho, University of Cape Town (UCT) , Cape Town, South Africa, Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD), Dakar, Senegal; Université Gaston Berger, Saint-Louis, Senegal; Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; MOI University, Eldoret, Kenya; Centre for the Study of Forced Migration of the University ofDar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Université de Goma, Goma, DRC; University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji; University of the West Indies, Bridgetown, Barbados.

Associated Partners are: The International Migration Institute, Oxford, United Kingdom; The Commonwealth Secretariat, London, United Kingdom; Université de Yaoundé II, Yaoundé, Cameroon; The Economic and Social Research Foundation, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

The 12 Pilot Countries are: in West Africa: Senegal and Nigeria; in East Africa: Kenya and Tanzania; in Central Africa: Cameroon and DRC; Southern Africa: Lesotho and Angola; Caribbean: Haiti and Trinidad&Tobago; Pacific: Timor-Leste and Papua-New-Guinea.

PRESS RELEASE: 02/08/2010 – For immediate release

The ACP Observatory on Migration: improving migration research in ACP countries for better policy making
The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States Observatory on Migration is a new institution created to provide reliable data and information on migration flows in ACP countries. The objective is to design better policies to enhance the migration contribution to development. The Observatory will be officially launched in a ceremony foreseen for 25-27 October 2010 which will gather relevant figures from the political, economic and cultural fields both in the EU and the ACP countries.

The European Commission and the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States have partnered in the establishment of an intra-ACP Migration Facility aimed at fostering institutional capacity in the ACP countries and strengthen the civil society with the ultimate aim to include migration issues into national and regional development policies and strategies.
Available data on ACP migration is scarce and often unreliable. In many countries, the lack of relevant information has serious political consequences, since migrants’ need cannot be taken into account by policy makers. Migration is widely considered to present one of the factors influencing development but in many cases it has not been included in development strategies because of the lack of reliable data. According to Laurent de Boeck, Director of the ACP Observatory on Migration, “unlike South-North movements, South-South migration flows have received very limited attention in the past years.

Yet contrary to public perceptions, South-South migration is highly important in many regions and often takes place between neighbouring countries and those with small wage differentials. Drive factors include labour migration, family reunification, forced migration, traditional cross border flows and the effects of climate change”.
The ACP Observatory on Migration will tackle existing data and information gaps by improving policy-oriented knowledge on migration flows between ACP countries. Under the Secretariat of ACP States and funded by the EDF and Switzerland, the Observatory will introduce an innovative approach to enhance research capacities in ACP countries and provide policy makers the tools to improve their action. Information will be provided to general public to improve knowledge on migration issues. Research will focus on the protection of migrants’ rights through several research topics including forced migration, labour migration, migration and health, remittances and migration and climate change. The Observatory will foster networking and cooperation between research institutions, private researchers and government agencies through a website and will conduct research to obtain currently inexistent information. The total budget for the project is 9 404 776 €. The European Union contributes with 7 994 060 €.

An official ceremony will be organized in Brussels on 25-27 October 2010 to launch the Observatory. High representatives from EU and ACP institutions will be present to support the initiative, which strengthens the cooperation between European and ACP countries on migration and development. The launching ceremony will include working session and an artistic event foreseen for the 26th October 2010 where cultural and artistic creations from the ACP countries will be presented to the public.
END

Contact:mrfbrusselsacp@iom.int

An ACP Initiative, Empowered by IOM, Funded by the European Union (European contribution: 7 994 060 €) and with the financial support of Switzerland.

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ACP exporters and EU importers discuss EU Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)

The Public Consultation on the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), that started in April 2010, is still open until Next Monday 31st of May 2010 and contributions can be submitted until the end of Monday.


(Joyce van Genderen-Naar)

The EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is a trade arrangement through which the EU provides preferential access to the EU market to 176 developing countries and territories, in the form of reduced tariffs for their goods when entering the EU market. The GSP scheme is an important element in the EU’s active support for the sustainable development of developing countries.

The present GSP Regulation expires on 31 December 2011. The purpose of the present consultation exercise is to seek comments from interested parties as inputs to the Commission’s work to prepare a future proposal to the Council and Parliament on a successor Regulation. The consultation is aimed at all parties with an interest in the EU GSP scheme, including stakeholders within the EU and in third countries, including beneficiaries.

The report on the Consultation which will be published by the Commission on the Trade website.

View the consultation document

The Commission also organizes specific meetings with interested parties, such as the DG Trade Civil Society Meeting organised on 26 May 2010 in Brussels to discuss the Public consultation on the next GSP regulation with the participants. EU importers need a simple, stable and predictable GSP regulation, was the message of EuroCommerce (the EU retail, wholesail and international trade representation to the EU). In its position paper EuroCommerce says that the companies attracted by the GSP are importers and retailers in the EU, who operate in a highly competitive business environment and will base their planning on the GSP only if the system meets their specific expectations, i.e. simple rules, one year predictability, legal certainty, significant product coverage, a GSP Plus that acts as a true incentive, proper & early stakeholder consultation, preferential rules of origin that work in practice. See: Click Here

ACP exporters who export their products to the EU market under the GSP and EBA stress that the complexity of the Rules of origin, non trade barriers, non tariff barriers and high EU standards make it difficult to enter the EU Market and are the main problem that preferential trade arrangements did not work and will not work. The Rules of Origin should be made more user friendly and adapt to the needs of the ACP countries.

However the Rules of origin are not addressed by the GSP Public Consultation, because there was already a Public Consultation on the Rules of Origin in 2006 and the reform is on its way according to the EC DG Trade.

What ACP (Africa, Carribean, Pacific) countries really need is the processing and distribution of their commodities and raw materials, product diversification, marketing, efficient distribution networks, transport and infrastructure.

Another concern is the artificial line between LDCs and non-LDCs. The suggestion is to add some of the LDCs to the EBA list and to apply it to custom unions in Africa. There should be one scheme (not GSP, GSP+ and EBA) with graduations according to the economic situation of the countries or objective development criteria such as the GDP per capita should be applied. In case of import share as criterion it should be a high percentage for all products.

CARIS (Centre for the Analysis of Regional Integration, University of Sussex) presented its Mid Term Evaluation of the EU’s GSP, a report commissioned and financed by the European Commission. In the executive Summary CARIS says in point 15. that ‘there is little evidence that the EU’s preference regimes have led to a diversification of exports into new products’. Furthermore in point 26. ‘While there are some significant trade and output effects for a sub-set of agricultural commodities and regions (notably fruits and vegetables in Ecuador, Costa Rica and Argentina, sugar products in the Caribbean, North Africa and Sub-Sahara African EBA beneficiaries, oils and fats in North Africa), the substantial expansionary impacts of the EU GSP occur in the textile, apparel and leather goods industries within Southern and Eastern Europe, North Africa, Cambodia and Pakistan.’

‘ Among the EBA regions in the model, Cambodia and Bangladesh benefit most from the EU scheme, while the EBA Sub-Saharan Africa composite region gains very little overall. ‘ (point 25).

‘The bilateral gravity modeling exercise identified some evidence that preferences arising from the EU’s free trade arrangements as well as those applied to the Cotonou countries had a positive impact on trade with the EU, rather than EBA, GSP, or GSP+ arrangements, ‘ according to CARIS in point 23 of the Executive Summary.

Joyce van Genderen-Naar
Brussels
vangenderen@unicall.be

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ACP and EU Tired of EPAs

By Joyce van Genderen-Naar

The ACP and EU views expressed April 29, 2010 at the International EPA Seminar in Brussels, “EPAs in (times of) crisis” (state of play of the EPA negotiations and implementation and the EPAs in the light of the global crises), made very clear that :

1. 8 years of EPA negotiations (2002-2010) were a disaster.

2. there is a ‘fatigue’ in ACP countries and in EU Members States: the majority is tired of or not interested in EPAs.

3. main reason of the failure is that the European Commission has never listened and never taken serious the concerns and needs of ACP countries and has forced the ACP countries and their governments to conclude the EPAs.

4. ACP representatives spoke about unethical and unrespectful negotiations practices of EU representatives in their countries, putting pressure on ACP exporters to influence their governments to conclude the EPAs.

5. the impact of the global crises (food, financial, economic, climat change) on ACP countries makes it necessary and urgent to rethink the EPAs, and in case of the Caribbean to review and not to ratify the CF-EC-EPA.

7. Calls were made to suspend or block the EPA negotiations.

8. The way forward and other issues were discussed at the International EPA Seminar in Brussels.

9. The presentations will be made available at www.epawatch.eu

What I noticed is that ACP state actors (representatives of Governments and embassies) and non state actors (NGOs, civil society) are together opposing the inflexibility, deadlines etc. of these negotiations. Before only NGOs were against EPAs, now ACP state and non state are in this together, trying to safeguard their economies and future.

The regional EPA negotiations were dividing ACP: Africa (4 regions), Caribbean and Pacific. But what brings them together is the need to defend their common interests: poverty eradication, sustainable development and globalisation, which are not guaranteed by the EPA and the negotiations with the EC. Due to the inflexible EPA negotiations the EC is alienating the ACP countries. ACP countries need their experts not only for EPA negotiations with the EC but also for economic cooperation with Asia and America. That was also an important message of the ACP representatives at the International EPA Seminar in Brussels.

Civil organisations contributing to the organisation of the seminar were: ActionAid, African Trade Network, APRODEV, Africa Groups Sweden, Caribbean Policy Development Centre, ENDA, Forum Syd, ICCO, Oxfam International, Pacific Network on Globalisation, Partnership for Change, SOS Faim, Third World Network Africa, Transnational Institute, Traidcraft, and 11.11.11.(Marc Maes).

The Key note address was made by Martin Khor, Director South Centre: EPAs in times of crises

Civil society perspectives on the state of the play by:

* Maureen Penjueli (Pacific Network on Globalisation): Pacific perspectives
* Cheikh Tidiane Dieye (ENDA) : African perspectives
* Shantal Munro (Caribbean Policy Development Centre) : Caribbean perspectives

The global Food crisis and EPAs :

* Jean-Jacques Grodent (SOS Faim) : The global food crisis and the right to food.
* NN, Réseau des organisations paysannes et de producteurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (ROPPA): Food crisis, EPAs and

African small holders

* Karin Ulmer (APRODEV) : Can better Safeguards help?

Rethinking EPAs:

* Emily Jones (Oxford University): Updating the EPAs in light of the crises
* Sanya Reid-Smith (Third World Network): Services, investments and trade-related issues
* Viviana Munoz (South Centre): Intellectual property rights

Why is there still only one “full” EPA (and should there be more)?

* Debate among representatives of Civil Society, the EU Commission and the ACP

www.epawatch.eu

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Unique solidarity between the EU outermost and ACP bananaproducing and exporting countries


(Joyce van Genderen-Naar)

The Declaration on Bananas the ACP-EU Joint Assembly adopted on 1 April 2010 in Tenerife last week, is the result of an unique solidarity between the EU outermost and ACP banana producing and exporting countries, among which the Caribbean.

In the joint declaration both EU Outermost regions and ACP countries critizised the EU policy and the EC agreement with the Latin Americans, closed by the EC at the expense of EU Outermost regions and ACP countries. The banana producers from Tenerife/Las Canarias, Guadeloupe, Martinique, the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific expressed their common concerns. Tenerife and Las Canarias being part of Spain, said how disappointed they are in Spain were the agreement with the Latin Americans will be signed in May 2010.

They called upon the EU to stop this, or else the economies of the Canarias, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Caribbean, Africa and Pacific banana producing and exporting countries will be destroyed. No one understands why the EU is doing this. The Caribbean representatives said that not only bananas, but also rum and sugar, and everything else that is functioning well in the Caribbean is in danger because of EU measures.

As said in the Declaration:
“The European Parliament seriously considers the impact of the issues raised in this declaration before giving its consent to the bananas agreement.”

The role of the European Parliament is strengthened by the Lisbon Treaty, which means that the role of civil society (CS) is strengthened too. The Eur. Parl. consults the CS before agreeing on Trade Agreements and EU policy with regard to trade relations, economic and other commercial EU interests. Which means that representatives of interest groups and organizations have to discuss their interests and concerns with the Members of European Parliament if they want them to support their case. So we have to lobby more in Brussels. That is what the Latin Americans have been doing and their strong voices are heard.

The EC defends its policy by saying that the Latin American countries are so poor, more than the Caribbean, and that they depend on the banana export. A very weak argument, because the profits of the multinationals, Chiquita etc., are not for the benefit of the poor people of Latin America who are exploited by these multinationals, that are not respecting labour standards. In a EC meeting on 16 March 2010 in Brussels the International Trade Unions asked the EC not to close Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, because it is the most dangerous place in the world for trade unionists: over 60% of all trade unionists killed in the world are Colombian, 128 Colombian Trade Unionists were assassinated between 2007-2009. That should also be brought forward with regard to the banana agreement between the EC and Colombia.

So what we could and should do is defend our countries’ and populations’ interest through debates in parliaments (national and on EU-ACP level), with members of Parliaments (national and EU-ACP), in the media, newspapers, at Universities, etc. We have to lobby more.

 

DECLARATION on the EU-Latin America Bananas Agreement and its impact on ACP and EU banana producers(ES)

01.04.2010

The EU-Latin America bananas agreement and its impact on ACP and EU banana producers

The deal

A. In December 2009 the EU came to an agreement within the WTO with the US and Latin American producers to put an end to the long-running dispute on bananas.

B. The deal will mean significant tariff cuts (35% between 2010 and 2017 at the earliest) for non-ACP imports and, as a result, it will harm the
competitiveness of  ACP and EU producers.

C. Moreover, the EU is currently holding bilateral talks with certain Latin American countries, with a view to signing free-trade agreements, which may lead to significant further tariff reductions and considerably reduce any supposed benefits to ACP banana producers derived from EPAs.

D. Bananas are the world’s fourth biggest agricultural export. The EU market accounts for over a third of all imports.

E. Multinationals operating in Latin America control over 80% of the global market.

F. In 2008, 72% of the bananas sold in Europe were already from Latin America,whereas bananas from ACP countries and the EU only represented 17% and 10.5% respectively. Virtually all ACP banana exports go to the EU, while Latin American countries also export to North and South America and Russia.

G. Banana production has a major impact on local communities, not only in economic terms, but also as regards the environment, migration, gender and labour standards.

H. In some Latin American countries banana production by multinationals has been linked to a high level of human rights violations.

I. The agreement will enter into force if and when the European Parliament gives its consent and the Council authorises its conclusion.

The impact

J. The effects of the agreement, which is an attempt to match sustainable development objectives with WTO obligations, are already starting to be
felt.

K. ACP producers will be hit hard as they lose a significant part of their tariff protection. Some ACP countries, which depend heavily on banana exports, may see their export industries disappear altogether with dire social and economic consequences.

L. Without proper accompanying measures, European banana producing regions, some of which are among the poorest in the EU and already face high unemployment, will also pay a hefty socioeconomic price.

M. The multinationals will benefit enormously at the expense of EU/ACP small-scale farming communities.

N. ACP and European banana producing regions will need more financial support to maintain this key economic activity in order to compete with bananas from regions with very low levels of salaries, social conditions and  environmental rules.

O. The move towards ever-cheaper bananas is likely to lead to a race to the bottom in terms of labour standards, including child labour, environmental protection, corruption and tax evasion in the banana sector.

P. The European Commission has put together a support package for ACP producers (banana accompanying measures), worth ?190 million over four years, with an extra ?10 million depending on certain conditions. This support does not take into account further tariff cuts resulting from bilateral trade agreements with Latin American countries.

Q. The new concessions made to Colombia and Peru and already requested by Central American countries go much further than those included in the recent agreement and may destabilise other countries in the region, as well as the economies of other banana producers in ACP countries and in the EU.

R. No additional support is foreseen for EU producers, particularly from the outermost regions.

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, recalling that policy coherence for development is now enshrined in the Lisbon treaty, demands that:

1. The Commission conducts an economic, social and environmental impact assessment of the EU-Latin America bananas agreement for ACP and EU banana
producers, as provided for in Declaration XXIII of the Cotonou Agreement;

2. The Commission fairly considers increasing the financial package to help ACP and European producers adjust to the new regime and speeds up disbursement
of these funds;

3. The Commission considers specific additional financial and technical assistance to ACP countries to address social and environmental effects, supply-side constraints and promoting diversification beyond 2013;

4. The EU brings forward measures to help heavily banana-dependent states to diversify their economies, including more aid-for-trade, fulfilling EC and Member States’ aid-for-trade pledges of ?1 billion each (with 50% available for ACP countries);

5. The Commission provides support to offset losses incurred by EU producers,gradually puts in place measures to encourage sustainable banana production
in the EU and ensures the effective application of the banana safeguard clause in bilateral and multilateral trade agreements;

6. Any new tariff cuts under bilateral trade agreements with Latin American nations over and above the WTO agreement possibly give rise to adequate compensatory measures;

7. The Commission provides ACP and EU producers with genuine legal certainty on the future of the banana trade regime and that the EP and ACP national parliaments continue to monitor this issue closely;

8. EU and ACP authorities step up their efforts to ensure that all banana producing nations effectively apply all aspects of the ILO’s decent labour agenda;

9. The Commission raises awareness on ethical trading to discourage European retailers from importing bananas from producers with inadequate policies on
tax evasion, corruption, labour standards and human rights violations;

10. The European Parliament seriously considers the impact of the issues raised in this declaration before giving its consent to the bananas agreement.

www.europarl.europa.eu/intcoop/acp/60_19/default_en.htm

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ACP Civil Society Forum – Joyce van Genderen

Interview ACP Civile Society Forum- Joyce van Genderen-Naar

Watch live streaming video from acpcsforum at livestream.com

 

            ACP28/020/09 Rev.1                           Brussels, 11 December 2009

            PAHD Dept

 

3rd ACP Civil Society Forum

Declaration 2009

 

Brussels, Belgium

(ACP – EU Partnership)

3rd ACP Civil Society Forum

Declaration 2009

Brussels, Belgium

(ACP – EU Partnership) 

We, the Representatives of Civil Society Organizations of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP), meeting in Brussels on the 10th and 11th of December 2009, within the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and subsequent to the mandate of the adopted Plan of Action of the Civil Society meeting held in Entebbe, Uganda in October, 1997, with the precise intention of fulfilling the objectives of the ACP Civil Society Forum to promote, facilitate and enhance the vital contributions of regional and national grassroots, community based and other civil society organizations, who work for the benefit of the people of the ACP Regions[1],

1.      Noting that the ACP – EU Partnership Agreement signed the Cotonou Agreement on the 23rd of  June 2000;

2.      Acknowledging the justified place, role and the right of Non State Actors (NSAs) to be involved in all phases of the cooperation process, as legally enshrined in the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement;

3.      Relying on the ACP Civil Society Plan of Action dated July, 2001 that was subsequently endorsed by the 27th ACP – EU Council of Ministers Meeting in Punta Cana on the 27th of June 2002 as the basis for its actions;

4.      Recognizing, assessing, and acting upon the established objectives of the said ACP Civil Society Plan of Action;

5.      Assessing the work of the delegates as presented by the Chairpersons and the Rapporteurs at the two previous statutory meetings held in 2001 and 2006 of the ACP Civil Society Forum and their respective Plan of Actions;

6.      Embracing the legitimacy and legality of all the foregoing;

7.      Considering the passage of time since the 1997    Meeting, the limited capacity of Civil Society Organisations, their limited access to information and subsequent low involvement in ACP-EU processes;

8.       Noting the due expiration of the current Cotonou Agreement in the year 2020;  

 9.  Hereby declare the urgency of taking ownership of the ACP Civil Society Forum and to formulate guidelines and procedures, relating to:

i.             Management and Organisation of the ACP Civil Society Forum

Declare that:

1.      The Civil Society Forum shall meet every two years at the headquarters of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Grouping in Brussels;

2.      There shall be regional meetings of Civil Society  on an annual basis to facilitate and promote regional dialogue and consensus – these meetings shall therefore be convened in the respective regions;

3.      The ACP Civil Society Forum, taking into consideration, the provision of gender equality, shall adopt the following operational structure in order to provide a channel for information flow from bottom up; create a network for coordinating actions; sharing, gathering and disseminating information:

a. The Chairperson of the ACP Civil Society Forum shall lead and oversee the process;

b. One National Focal Point from each of the seventy-nine member states, and one Regional Focal Point (Vice Chairperson) from each of the Six ACP sub-regions shall be installed to manage the flow of information and communications with Civil Society Organisations in the said six sub-regions;

ii.             Operations of the Civil Society Forum

Communication and interchange:

1.      The ACP Civil Society Forum shall effect communications by means of an inclusive CSO social network via the internet and by any other media that is practical for that purpose in order to fill gaps in the communication flows essentially as a central pillar to fulfilling the functions of the Civil Society Forum at all levels.

2.      Acknowledging the recognition accorded to the work of Civil Society by the Cotonou Agreement, the ACP Civil Society Forum shall develop positions and advocacy based on the principles and precepts of Evidence Based Knowledge Sharing and Policy Making relying on the wealth of ACP Civil Society expertise and sensitivity for that which concerns the strategic interests and the practical needs of populations they represent and advocate for.

iii.            Commitments:

1.      Acknowledging the established guidelines for Civil Society Capacity Building support mechanisms at the national level requiring a civil society organization to contribute up to 25% of the resources required to access European Union funding, we hereby declare that the Forum will advocate for the reduction of this stipulation and mechanism review (to no more than 10%).  In that, in general, development funding mechanisms require co-payments or contributions from beneficiary populations;

2.      At the next mid-term review of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, and at the all-ACP level, we advocate that EDF Intra-ACP financial resources are committed to fund the ACP Civil Society Forum, in order to facilitate the implementation of the objectives of this and all prior Meetings of the ACP Civil Society Forum, as outlined in the ACP Civil Society Forum Declarations and the Plans of Actions. 

We do hereby declare that Civil Society, at the national, regional and all-ACP levels shall stand ready to:

 i.            Participate in the negotiation, implementation and monitoring of the Economic Partnership Agreement ;

 ii.            Participate in the discussions and actions addressing Natural Disasters the Environment and Climate Change;

 iii.            Participate in the monitoring and evaluation of attempts to accomplish national indicators;

 iv.            Participate in the promotion of the use of Culture as a means of National, Regional and Human Development;

 v.            Participate in the discussions and actions addressing the present global economic and financial crisis;

 vi.            Participate in fostering sustainable youth development;

  vii.            Participate in policy dialogue and programmes that promote transparency and  good governance at all national, regional and all-ACP levels of development;

  viii.            Participate in the promotion of food security and sovereignty;

   ix.            Participate in the monitoring and evaluation of progress on the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals;

   x.            Participate in the promotion of gender equality, human rights, good governance and democratic processes;

   xi.            Participate in the policy dialogue and programmes on Sexual and Reproductive Health and in the fight against HIV and AIDS;

   xii.            Participate in the Joint Parliamentary Assembly, ACP Parliamentary Assembly, ACP Council of Ministers, ACP Committee of Ambassadors;

   xiii.            Participate in the creation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Civil Society and public policy at all levels.

iv.   Final Provisions:

i. Undertake to promote, distribute and implement this Brussels Declaration and Plan of Action on the aforementioned issues;

ii.  Request the ACP Ministers of Finance,  ACP and EU Councils of Ministers to reaffirm a commitment to provide access up to 15% of EDF resources for Civil Society Orgnisations, which will contribute to the disbursement of funds in a timely manner;

iii. Appeal to ACP States, EU and the joint ACP-EU institutions, in collaboration with our partners and financial institutions for development at national, regional, all-ACP and international level, to support, follow-up and participate in the implementation of the Brussels   Declaration of the 3rd ACP Civil Society Forum; and

iv. Request the Chairperson of the Meeting of the 3rd  ACP Civil Society Forum, in collaboration with the Chairperson of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors and the Secretary-General of the ACP Group, to forward this Declaration to the Chairperson of the next Meeting of ACP Ministers of Finance, Presidents of the ACP Council of Ministers, EU Council of Ministers, and European Commission, Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Heads of the ACP Regional Integration Organisations, ACP Media and relevant bi- and multilateral partners.

Brussels, 11 December 2009

For the 3rd ACP Civil Society Forum

Mr. Lawman Layon Lynch

Chairperson

 


[1] Annex VII, The Cotonou Agreement; A User’s Guide for Non State Actors; Douala Declaration, 1999; ACP Civil Society Organization Forum, Final Report Outcome of the Meetings of the ACP and ACP-EU Civil Society Forum from 2nd – 5th July 2001;  ACP Civil Society Plan of Action adopted in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, 27 June 2002; Declaration of the 2nd ACP Civil Society Forum, 21 April 2006.

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EU Trade Conference in Brussels


Joyce van Genderen-Naar

On 16 March 2010, I attended the EU Trade Conference in Brussels, the “EU Trade Policy towards Developing Countries: Challenges and opportunities for the next years” in Brussels. There were many EU Civil Society Organizations, EU officials, Asian representatives and only a few ACP representatives.

ACP and EPA were mentioned all the time, meaning Africa, not Caribbean and Pacific. Caribbean was only mentioned when the EC spoke about the only full signed EPA, the CF-EC-EPA, and the control mechanism through the new EPA Parliamentary institution. The implementation and ratification problems of the CF-EC-EPA were not discussed and there was no presenter from the Caribbean or the Pacific. There was a presenter descending from Italy for Latin America and Caribbean, who only spoke about EU Trade with Latin America. The Asian presenter from India spoke about the EU Trade with China, India, Korea etc. Not Pacific.

Prof. Festus Fajana, African Union was one of the presenters. He said that the EPA has been forced upon the ACP. The EC said to be optimistic and will go on with the EPAs for Africa. (Note: On 29 April 2010 the Civil Society Organisaties are organizing a big International EPA Seminar in Brussels to deal with these issues).

There were also presentations about EU Trade with Asia and Latin America. We were informed that the EC has only Free Trade Arrangements with Korea, to be followed by Singapore and Japan perhaps. With regard to Latin America only with Mexico and some two other South American countries. Asian and Latin American countries are sceptic and don’t want certain EU rules and standards imposed upon them by the EC.

The Trade Unions presenter asked EC not to close Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, because it is the most dangerous place in the world for trade unionists: over 60% of all trade unionists killed in the world are Colombian, between 2007-2009 128 Colombian Trade Unionists were assassinated. That should also be brought forward with regard to the banana agreement between the EC and Colombia.

Other most important news was that the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GPS) will end in December 2011 and will be replaced by a new system, and that their will be public consultations online in April and May 2010, for stakeholders, civil society, private sector etc. to give their views. The EC Public Consultation will be on the website in a few days. ACP stakeholders could and should participate in these Public Consultations.

The EU GPS system is the system of preferential trading arrangements through which the EU gives preferential access to its markets to developing countries, in the form of a reduction or elimination of the custom duties on goods originating from developing countries.

Many countries are depending on this GSP system, existing of– a general agreement, which provides autonomous preferences to 176 developing countries and territories;
– the Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance (GSP +), which offers additional preferences to support vulnerable developing countries in their ratification and implementation of relevant international conventions in this fields; and
– the Everything But Arms arrangement , which provides duty-free, quota-free access for all Least – Developed Countries (LDCs).

The conference programme and more information are available from the conference website:

http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=512

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